Back To Career News

How to Protect Yourself When Your Boss Is Dishonest

Topics: Career Advice

You’ve likely had a bad boss or two in your past, but have you ever had one that was corrupt, or who wanted you to act dishonestly? It can be quite the rock-and-a-hard-place situation, when the person who approves your timecards is asking you to break the rules (or the law). So when you’re put in these awkward, or even dangerous positions, what can you do? Believe it or not, there are ways to fight back that don’t include standing up and yelling, “J’accuse!”


(Photo Credit: Schwar/Flickr)

Say No, Louder and Louder

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The Harvard Business Review outlines a series of escalations you can use to first warn your boss of their potential missteps. For example, if you’re being asked to falsify payroll information, you can turn the focus on your boss, and express concern for how the manipulation might reflect badly on them. If the wrongdoing escalates, so can your rejections of the requests to participate. You should increase your stance of “No” and even bring others to back up your opinion.

Know What Your Standards Are

While you know your right from wrong, do you know your breaking point when someone asks you to “bend” the rules? An NBC News piece asked expert Patricia Harned, president of the Ethics Resource Center, for her take.

“Overall, about 10 percent of employees report they feel pressured to compromise their standards in order to do their jobs, and of those 69 percent say the pressure is coming for their immediate supervisor,” Harned said.

It’s important to think about what your standards are, before someone asks you to make a fuzzy mess of them.

You’re in Charge of Your Actions

Remember that if you’re doing something illegal, you are liable for your own actions. For example, a speeding delivery driver will get a ticket if they’re pulled over, even if their boss told them to do it.

If you feel like what you’re being asked to do is illegal, you should take a look at the federal whistleblower protections. There are multiple state as well as federal protections that employees can take advantage of to protect themselves if they want to report abuse of financial, safety, and other conditions. Just remember, that you can’t object silently to something. If you truly believe you’re being asked to act illegally, you have to speak up.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever been stuck between your boss and the law? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.